Program in Film and Video

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Program in Film and Video, faculty, facilities, curriculum, and view student work.

In order for your portfolio to be seriously considered by the faculty reviewing your work, it is important to follow these guidelines. Please read through the requirements carefully and direct any questions to your Assistant Director of Admissions.

The faculty are interested in what motivates or inspires each individual applicant and looks for evidence of this in both the portfolio and the artist statement. We are curious about the unique way you work with image and sound. You should submit at least one piece that you have shot yourself so that we can see how you use the camera as a tool for self-expression. You should submit your best, most recent work that demonstrates the direction in which you would like to take your practice.  

Your portfolio must be submitted in the online application. Please make sure your videos play properly and proofread your writing. All work submitted in a language other than English must be subtitled. 

No changes or additions can be made after the final submission of your portfolio.

Online Portfolio Submissions

Upload digital files into the portfolio section of the application. The system allows you to include descriptions and materials used. List for each uploaded file the following information in the description: title, date, medium, length, links to full-length pieces if submitting an excerpt, and notes. Please also include this information in the List of Works document. You may upload video files or still images. Sequence the works according to your priority in viewing. 

If you submit a link to an outside server such as YouTube or Vimeo, the link must remain viewable for at least one full calendar year.

Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. Please be advised that CalArts is not able to view your work until the final submission is made and your payment is received.

No changes or additions can be made following the final submission of your portfolio.

Portfolio Guidelines (BFA and MFA)

Your portfolio should contain film or video based work, with a suggested total runtime of 10 minutes. You can submit one or more short pieces that add up to 10 minutes. Send only your best work. Five minutes of quality material is better than 10 minutes of mediocre work.

In general, we prefer to receive complete works rather than excerpts. If you want to submit an excerpt from a longer piece, please provide a link to the full length version in the List of Works document.

Do not submit show reels, trailers, or screenplays.

You may supplement your films and/or videos with creative work in other fields, particularly visual material such as artwork, photography, installations, drawings, design, and sound, especially if you believe it will help the faculty to understand the kind of filmmaker and artist you are. 

Label each upload item in the description section with the title, date completed, running time, medium, and a word or phrase designating your responsibility in production or inception of each piece (e.g. filmmaker, camera, writer, etc.)

Admission is based primarily on your artistic work. Submitting an online portfolio is required. If you would like to submit work created on celluloid film, such as 16mm or super 8, please upload a telecined version. 

In addition to the general application requirements (online application and application fees, artist statement, two letters recommendation, and transcripts), Program in Film and Video applicants must also submit materials to meet the portfolio requirements detailed below.

Artist Statement (500 - 1000 words)

The Artist Statement is very important in the admissions process and should answer the following three questions:

  • What issues and concerns inform your artmaking practice?
  • Why are you applying to your program at CalArts?
  • What are your artistic goals?

Additional Required Written Materials

Submit the following written materials in your online application. Each of the following required materials should be about 1 to 2 pages (500 - 1000 words) and uploaded as individual pdf documents into the corresponding sections on the application.

  • List of Works Submitted
    • Include your role in the production, any applicable links to full length versions, and a brief one or two-sentence synopsis of each piece submitted in your portfolio. If you submit multiple pieces, be sure the order of the synopses and the work samples are the same. 
  • Comments on Influences
    • Brief comments on films, books, plays, television shows, etc., that you feel have influenced your thoughts as a filmmaker/video artist. It is important to say why and how these works have influenced you. Avoid writing plot summaries. Include titles and creator names.
  • Future Project Plan
    • Regardless of the work you have done to date or the practical skills you have developed so far, outline an example of a project you have in mind. Describe the basic idea of the project--not the technical aspects of how you would arrange to have it made. Keep in mind that such a plan is meant to give the faculty an idea of the type of filmmaking that interests you, not an idea of a project you will necessarily produce at CalArts. Do not submit scripts or screenplays. 
  • Résumé/CV
    • Short résumé/CV and/or list of special skills. 
  • Optional Supplemental Creative Writing Sample
    • If you wish to submit creative writing such as a short story, essay, poems, or a piece of critical writing please limit the total length to a maximum of 1500 words. Do not submit scripts or screenplays. 


Video Introduction (optional)

Tell us about one person, place, thing, or event that has helped shape your personality and/or your art practice.

  • Duration: minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of 90 seconds.

  • Speak directly to the camera.

  • No edits.

  • No special effects or on-screen overlays.

  • Linked file must remain online for at least one full year.

  • Does not require professional-level equipment; cellphone camera or consumer cameras are okay.

MFA Interviews

Applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process will be notified in mid-February. At that time, candidates will be invited to visit CalArts in March for an interview and to meet faculty and students. An interview is required of invited applicants and is an important component of the final selection process. 

Video chat interviews are available in exceptional cases, however we like to emphasize the importance of having an in-person interview as part of the application process for prospective students. Additionally, an in-person interview gives you a unique opportunity to see the school and meet and talk to the faculty.